Unless you happen to have a talent for mind reading, it can be difficult to gauge if someone is silently judging you.
We’re conditioned to behave in certain ways in the interest of politeness. But if you’re aware of what to look for, you can identify subtle signs of contempt.
Your gut will be the first in line to tell you if you’re being judged. Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts because more often than not, your intuition knows the deal.
Be aware of your feelings but don’t think you need to act on them. After all, this isn’t on you. Remember that approval from other people does not define your value.
The only person’s approval you need is your own.
So what signs exactly are you looking for if you think you’re being judged? Here are a few clues to watch out for that could mean someone is judging you.
1) Body language
Understanding body language is always a useful skill to have. It helps you read between the lines of a conversation and get a sense of what others are thinking.
The next time you’re interacting with someone, take the opportunity to suss out their body language. It’s usually far more revealing than their words alone.
For example, people convey their approval with smiles or encouraging nods—and their disapproval with blank stares or thinly veiled contempt. Their actions may not match their words. These folks might be silently judging you.
2) Over-the-top nodding
This little bit of body language deserves a spot all its own.
Let me ask you – have you ever participated in a conversation where your companion is nodding like a bobblehead toy?
Excessive nodding is often an indication of silent judgment. The person is presenting a facade of agreement while inwardly they’re picking apart everything you’re saying.
OK, some people are just nodders. It’s how they communicate engagement, not shy away from it. However, when over-the-top nodding is paired with other signs, odds are that someone is silently passing judgment on you.
But it’s all about the context of the particular discussion and the overall demeanor of the person you’re conversing with. Trust your intuition!
On the other hand, if someone is judging you, odds are they won’t display this type of interest. Their questions might feel obligatory, or they may not bother asking any clarifying questions at all.
They might come off as cool or detached – a reluctant observer rather than an active participant in the conversation.
4) Curt response
If someone is secretly judgmental, their responses to you could be brief or curt.
This might translate to one-word answers or parroting back what you said without adding anything of value to the discussion.
They figure the less they say, the less material they’re giving you to judge them. And that’s probably due to the fact that they’re judging you.
Now some people are less talkative by nature and harbor no ill will. But when the economy of words is coupled with other signs listed here, it can definitely point to the existence of underlying judgment.
5) Mean Girl behavior
It’s important to understand that if someone is silently judging you, they’ve probably got company.
When you talk to these people as a group, the main person who’s judging you may smirk knowingly at one of their friends. Right in front of you, no less.
It will be barely perceptible – but definitely judgmental. Rest assured they’ll be dissecting everything you said later.
Another telltale sign that you are being judged is when someone starts patronizing you.
They’ll be incredibly condescending, but they’ll attempt to hide it under a cloak of fake niceness.
Say you tell them you got hired for your dream job. They’ll respond along the lines of:
“No way! That’s amazing! Aren’t you the lucky one! You should feel a huge sense of accomplishment! Here’s a cookie!”
7) Lots and lots of questions
Sometimes, people will ask questions they already know the answer to trying to catch you in a lie or to embarrass you.
When you’re dealing with the latter, they’re silently judging you all right – make no mistake.
Have you seen the movie “Titanic”? Think back to the dinner scene when Rose’s mother is asking Jack about the accommodations in steerage and his rootless existence.
Remember how hard you wanted to lay the smackdown? Yeah. That’s the vibe.
8) Deafening silence
Awkward silence may mean that someone is silently judging you. It can make you extremely uncomfortable and cause you to second-guess what you’ve just shared.
Some people are jerks and will use silence to make you uncomfortable, or embarrassed by what you just said.
Say you crack a joke that they didn’t think was amusing. Now, they won’t say they don’t find your joke funny. Instead, they’ll stare at you in complete, deafening silence.
Of course, a pause in conversation doesn’t always mean you’re being judged. Some people just need to pause and process the information or gather their thoughts before replying.
But when the silence is awkward and followed by a sudden change in topic or the conversation ends abruptly, it’s a good bet that you are being silently judged.
9) Tone of voice
Another subtle sign that someone might be judging you is the other person’s tone of voice. It can turn on a dime from friendly and engaged to abrupt or dismissive.
A person’s tone reveals their real thoughts and feelings. If someone is (not so) secretly judging you, they may dress you in a condescending or patronizing manner, even if their actual words are polite.
With a little practice, it’s easier to notice these slight but telling changes in tone. If you’re picking up on a tone shift when someone is speaking to you, this could mean they’re judging you.
Whether we intend to do so or not, we’re all subconsciously judging everyone we interact with. It’s just human nature.
But remember, if someone negatively judges you, their opinion has nothing to do with you. They are judging you based on their own biases and life experiences, not yours.
In the end, the only person’s judgment you should take into consideration is your own.
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.